Your network equals your net worth: The power and importance of mentors

You wanna know what’s on the minds of young professionals these days?

Ask them. They’ll tell you.

We have, time and time again. Every time Tom Hood steps in front of a crowd of CPAs, he asks them what’s on their minds.

Here’s what they’re saying: Some of the biggest issues they’re dealing with these days involve personal development, growth, keeping up with change, and building valuable networks. Their solutions to those problems center on connections, communication, and collaboration.

See the trend? Success today is all about people. It’s all about building networks that will help you build your business and, in turn, your career.

Barrett Young gets that.

The past chair of the MACPA’s Southern Maryland Chapter recently organized the first of what he hopes will be quarterly mentoring meet-ups. Just a handful of people showed up, but the event served its purpose. CPAs from diverse backgrounds came together for a casual evening, made meaningful connections, and took the first steps toward fruitful mentorships.

“We didn’t want to just pair people off. We wanted them to come and make connections with other people in the area,” Young said. “This was an opportunity to talk to someone who doesn’t work at your firm, who you don’t directly report to, who can offer you insights into areas of the profession that you don’t currently work in.”

That perspective comes from personal experience.

“When I launched my company, I was desperate to connect with someone who had been there, who had done the things that I was trying to do,” Young said. “Now, I realize that I have a role to play as someone who can mentor others.”

This is how the profession stays relevant going forward – CPAs in public practice helping those in private practice, who are helping those in business and industry, who are helping those in non-profits and government. The backgrounds are different, but the designation is the same. They’re all CPAs, and they all can help each other deal with a changing and complex world.

It also speaks to the power of associations like the MACPA. We’re here to help members associate. In a world where connections and collaboration are more important than ever, there’s no denying the continued importance of associations.

Young wants to see this effort grow beyond the Southern Maryland lines. CPAs in Southern Maryland have much to learn from CPAs everywhere. Why limit it to some imaginary border?

“There’s a lot of potential here,” Young said. “I see this as something that will connect the younger folks in the profession to a field that they love, that they want to remain a part of for the next 30 or 40 years and not leave at the first chance they get.”

Here’s the point: We’re not in this alone, and we certainly won’t succeed going forward on our own. We need help. We need to learn from other CPAs’ experiences, and help others learn from ours. We need to take — and add — value at every opportunity. We need a robust network, and that takes people.

Our success going forward depends on others.

We might as well start getting to know them now.

By the way, if you live in the Southern Maryland area, the chapter’s next mentoring event is scheduled for Jan. 15. Keep an eye on the MACPA’s online course catalog for details.


Bill Sheridan